Charitable giving on the rise

The latest Giving Report shows growth in giving for humanitarian relief and charity walks.

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Americans are a generous lot—in good times and bad. 2015 was no exception. The fourth annual Giving Report from Fidelity Charitable® saw a continued rise in donor-recommended grants, with the total grant dollars to charities reaching a record $3.1 billion to more than 106,000 charities in every state and around the globe.

That’s nearly triple the $1.3 billion granted in 2011. Among the top recipients: educational, social service and religious groups. The hottest trends: support for humanitarian relief and participatory events like charity walks. Plus, the report finds a continued shift from cash donations to the tax-smart gifting of long-term appreciated securities and non-publicly traded assets.

Trending: News-driven and social giving

News-driven giving, such as responses to natural disasters and refugee crises, along with social giving efforts, such as charity walks, are on the rise, earning contributions from more than 132,000 givers to Fidelity Charitable’s donor-advised fund (DAF) program last year.

According to the 2016 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report, spikes in support of specific charities on the list included those providing relief to victims of the earthquake in Nepal and the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Reflecting this trend, UNICEF and Oxfam saw 38% and 35% increases, respectively, in the number of donors supporting them with a Giving Account®.

Group-participation in giving activities, such as charitable walks and runs, also proved popular with Fidelity Charitable donors. Beneficiaries of this trend included several nonprofits focused on health care and medical research, including the Alzheimer’s Association, which saw a 39% increase in grants recommended by Fidelity Charitable donors and Pan-Mass Challenge, a Massachusetts-based bike-a-thon that raises money for cancer research, which saw a 26% increase in grants.

Are retirees able to continue their philanthropic ways?

The survey found that retirees who give with a donor-advised fund feel more assured that they will be able maintain or increase their charitable giving in retirement, with 62% of retired Fidelity Charitable donors who feel confident that they will be able to continue giving in retirement, compared with 52% of retirees surveyed who do not use DAFs. In addition, 70% of retired Fidelity Charitable donors give more than $10,000 to charity each year, compared with just 27% of retired donors surveyed who do not use DAFs.3

“The waves of baby boomers who will continue to retire over the coming decades are expected to be significant drivers of charitable giving,” says Matt Nash, senior vice president of marketing and client engagement at Fidelity Charitable. “We know that many donors set up their charitable Giving Account® as a way to prepare to maintain or grow their giving in retirement; most have high confidence that they will be able to continue to support charities at their current levels in the future, which indicates that this is often a very successful strategy.”

All in the family

Giving to charity is also often a family affair as Fidelity Charitable donors are significantly more likely to involve other members of their households when making decisions on giving. Sixty-two percent of Fidelity Charitable Giving Accounts have multiple donors who can select and specify charities to support.

Charitable giving as a wealth and estate planning strategy

There’s a lot more to philanthropic giving these days than just writing checks to charities you support. Many people are now stretching their charity dollars by using the tax benefits of donating long-term appreciated securities and contributing non-cash appreciated assets.

“Donating cash often isn’t the most strategic way to give,” advised Nash. “Donors who give non-cash assets directly to charity may be able to give up to 20% more versus liquidating a non-cash asset and making a cash contribution.”

In 2015, two thirds of contributions to Fidelity Charitable were made with non-cash assets, up significantly from the previous year. Sixty percent of Fidelity Charitable donors contributed non-cash assets, such as securities and non–publicly traded assets such as real estate, restricted stock, or limited partnership interests.

Nash further clarified, “A key benefit of using a donor-advised fund is that you can make a single donation of long-term appreciated securities and use that one contribution to support multiple charities. People who give to charity want to maximize the positive impact their donations have on the organizations they support.”

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Fidelity Charitable is the brand name for Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund, an independent public charity with a donor-advised fund program. Various Fidelity companies provide services to Fidelity Charitable. The Fidelity Charitable name and logo and Fidelity are registered service marks of FMR LLC, used by Fidelity Charitable under license. Giving Account is a registered service mark of the Trustees of Fidelity Charitable.
The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. Fidelity cannot guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.
1. Statistics based on surveys of Fidelity Charitable donors, a survey of people who give to charity and have more than $100,000 in investable assets and national statistics on charitable giving.
2. Survey statistics in the Giving Report spotlight section refer to Fidelity Charitable donors’ total giving, not just giving from their Giving Account.
3. Survey compared similar groups of people at three levels of wealth: one third of respondents had assets of $100K to $1 million; one third had assets of $1 million to $3 million; and one third had assets of more than $3 million.
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